We have just returned from the Army Aviation Senior Leaders’ Forum at Fort Rucker, AL and I have to say it was a home run on all accounts!
From the opening reception on Monday January 23 through the terrific sessions and the Aviation Dinner that featured the Parker Awards and the AAAA Functional Awards for Air Traffic Control, Air/Sea Rescue, etc. it was an enthusiastically attended event that looked to me like it broke all records.
The outstanding sessions were packed as you can see in the photo and the dinner filled the main bay of the Museum. The exchange of information with the all-Compo command teams was the best I have ever seen.
Hats off to our Aviation Branch Chief, MG Mac McCurry and his team for hosting an absolutely first-class event. It was a remarkable achievement considering there has not been a live Leaders’ Forum in three years! What a difference it makes getting together face-to-face to exchange ideas and engage with one another both in the formal sessions and social settings that this event provided.
On the AAAA side we caught up on three years of our Functional Awards that recognize so many of our junior ranking all-star Soldiers in areas like Air Traffic Control, Air Sea Rescue, Medics, Training and more from 2020, 2021 and 2022. Take a look at the accompanying photo at the number of awards on stage for the event and refer to last month’s issue for details on these awards. As usual the AAAA Awardee Dinner the night before the presentations brought all these amazing Soldiers, and most importantly their families, together to share stories and get to know one another. This Pillar of “Recognition” that underpins the AAAA mission statement of “Supporting the U.S. Army Aviation Soldier and Family” could not make us more proud of what your Association does each year.
Speaking of presentations, it was my absolute pleasure to present the AAAA Soldier and Family Support Award for 2021 to Mrs. Ingrid Strange after a couple year delay due to the cancellations of prior Leaders’ forums and calendar conflicts. For those of you who don’t know her, Ingrid is a perfect example of what makes our Branch and the Fort Rucker Community so special. She is literally the definition of selfless service. Our Family Support editor Judy Konitzer will have a full article on Ingrid in the AAAA pages of this issue, but I want to share a little up front.
Ingrid has owned “Ingrid’s Jewelers” in Daleville for decades. She has impacted literally thousands of our Soldiers and their Families through her incredible generosity and been a part of so many family events from engagements and weddings to birthdays, anniversary and Valentine day celebrations. Over 40 past senior Army Aviation leaders and Branch Chiefs crowded into the store to help honor Ingrid and thank her for her service to our Soldiers, their families, the community, and especially the AAAA where she was one of our most ardent and effective membership recruiters.
Though she is now wheelchair bound, her strong will and brilliant spirit shone through during the event. Special thanks to her husband Jerry Gerri and daughter Kirsten who helped us coordinate the event and honor this amazing woman who has touched so many of our lives. We love you Ingrid!
Finally, the AAAA Annual Summit is fast approaching April 26-28, 2023. We will mark the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the Army Aviation Branch on April 12, 1983. Make sure you get pre-registered to secure your spot for the various dinners like the Hall of Fame and the Soldier Appreciation Concert featuring Jennifer Nettles and avoid the badge registration lines on site.
Hope to see you there!
MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired
35th President, AAAA